Styles of Communication, Vol 6, No 1 (2014)

Vladimir Nabokov: A Case Study of Multilingualism and Translation

Paulina Rothermel


This article explores the relationship between translation and multilingualism through an examination of Vladimir Nabokov’s works and views on the topic. The main idea of the article is that translation is one of the implications of multi-competence, as defined by Vivian Cook in 1991, and as such is reliant on the translator’s cultural grounding. In Nabokov’s case, multilingualism and multiculturalism resulted in some very specific approaches in his own translation, as well as in his setting of canons for other translators to follow. Advocacy of the literal style in transliteration which remains faithful to the original author constitutes evidence of the utmost appreciation for the broadening of mental horizons that such foreignization may bring. Some rendering of Nabokov’s works into Polish, and the following of his directives in those renditions, were also analyzed by the author of the article.


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